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North Florida Wildlife Center receives new bird, only of its species in U.S.A.

Published: Oct. 4, 2021 at 4:25 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The last of its kind in the country: The North Florida Wildlife Center recently received a new bird, which is the only white-thighed hornbill in the United States.

Matilda has her own private aviary and has only been in it a week, but NFWC staff say she’s been showing signs of comfort like eating, preening and even a little bit of singing.

“Matilda is a very special bird,” explained NFWC Director Ryan David Reines. “She is the only individual of her species in the United States, at the moment.”

“She really enjoys blueberries and beetle larvae,” added volunteer Jaelyn Morris.

Matilda’s species is not classified as “endangered,” but Reines says the Center is trying to get ahead of the game.

“They come from rain forests and other forest ecosystems in Africa. We all know there are huge issues worldwide with deforestation and the people taking advantage of rain forests,” he explained. “On top of that, they’re also hunted illegally. So, though they are not listed as endangered, they still have lots of threats in the wild.”

The North Florida Wildlife Center specifically cares for rare and endangered species, like Matilda.

“We have a lot of like bird species and those aren’t maybe it’s cute and cuddly it’s like pandas and stuff but like they’re still really important,” Morris said.

Part of their mission is to educate visitors about what they can do to help protect threatened species.

“Reuse, recycle, use less water, eat sustainable food, use less electricity, all things were already taught help animals as a whole in the wild,” Reines added. “Anything you do to help the environment at home helps all animals around the globe, and it’s just a drop in the ocean, one at a time.”

Reines hopes to eventually find Matilda a mate but, in the meantime, she’s settling into her new home and has been eating a lot of blueberries and beetle larva.

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